Shadow and Bone

Who of us hasn’t heard of Shadow and Bone yet? With the Netflix adaptation and the amount of fanart, memes and bookstagram posts out there, it seems that we all know it, read it and love it. Let me add my voice to this racket.

It is a simple story that follows patterns established by other writers but is highly enjoyable and allows the reader to fully immerse in the world it creates. You can spend hours reading without noticing the passing time.

Shadow and Bone is the first part of the trilogy Shadow and Bone, written by Leigh Bardugo. Recently, it became immensely popular because of Netflix adaptation. Still, this review will focus on the book only, as I plan to leave the series for later— when I finish reading the trilogy.

The novel introduces a new fantasy world called the Grishaverse, and brilliant world-building seems to be the most significant advantage of Bardugo’s prose. The book focuses on Alina Starkov, an orphan and a soldier living in a Russia-inspired, war-stricken land of Ravka. The country is also torn by a mysterious Shadow Fold— a place of absolute darkness, where carnivorous monsters lurk in the shadows. On a journey through the Fold, in the act of desperation, Alina releases the power she didn’t realise she possessed. She is identified as a Grisha, a mythical Sun Summoner and the only hope for destroying the Shadow Fold, making her also a target of foreign assassins and court intrigues.

Leigh Bardugo created a fascinating world in her novels. It is a unique blend of elements of Russian culture and magic. Ravka is in the downfall as the frightening Shadow Fold makes trade and communication between two halves of the country almost impossible. Only the Grisha, the adepts of the Small Science who, among other powers, can summon the elements, are thriving as every crossing requires their support. As Alina becomes one of them, the reader explores their mysterious world together with her, and it is a world of power, desires and intrigues.

The novel follows the familiar script of a common hero destined for saving the world. As usual, we have the main character, who doesn’t really belong anywhere and has to find herself, her strength and confidence to complete her task, making the novel a kind of coming of age story. It involves romance as well, and the building tension between Alina and the Darling is one of the most exciting themes. The only flaw that really spoiled the pleasure of reading for me was Mal’s characterisation. He seems to be sketched and not written, and especially the change in his feelings for Alina should be more distinct. With that said, I still believe Shadow and Bone to be an enjoyable read and can’t wait to come back to the Grishaverse for more.

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